How To Become an HVAC-R Technician

The HVACR Technician is responsible for your comfort… most likely. They work tirelessly to install and repair heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration in our homes, businesses, factories, and entertainment venues, and the like. Innovation in the industry now requires educated, certified, and qualified personnel to fill future positions in the field. Take a look at the below information… Decide if a career in this field is for you!

Related Article: 40 Highest Paying Jobs With A Trade School Education in 2021

Table of Contents


What does HVACR stand for?

“HVACR” generally stands for Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration.

What do HVACR Technicians do?

HVACR Technicians repair and install heating, ventilation, air cooling, and refrigeration systems to maintain air quality and temperatures in residential or commercial buildings.

In addition, they are tasked with cleaning and doing preventative maintenance on systems, testing and inspecting HVACR systems, replacing defective parts, checking freon levels, and communicating with customers, and keeping maintenance and/or repair records.

How do I become an HVACR Technician?

In general, the best way to pursue a career as an HVACR Tech is to participate in a vocational program, which is typically offered by a trade school or at your community college. 

Programs normally last between six months up to two or three years and result in a certificate or associate degree.

If you can, locating an apprenticeship program that will allow you to sharpen and utilize your new skills is ideal for gaining valuable experience until you feel comfortable as a lead technician. 

Are there specializations to consider in the HVACR field?

Yes, some technicians are specially trained in refrigeration or cooler work. Some work specifically with solar panels, sheet metal for ductwork, electrical work to hook systems up, appliance repair for homes, wind turbines, or pipefitting to install gas or water-cooled systems.

Where do HVACR Technicians work?

Generally, an HVACR Technician can find work in the residential or commercial field, depending on their experience and area of expertise. They often work for contractors or with a company that specializes in HVACR work. 

In addition, HVACR Techs often start their own business to take advantage of being “self-employed,” scheduling their appointments, and working on the type of systems they prefer.

When working for an HVACR company, you can expect to work a regular 40-hour workweek; however, you can expect to take your time at “on-call” – where you will need to be available for nighttime or weekend emergencies.

Are there health risks in the field of HVACR?

As with any occupation, especially a trade, accidents happen; however, with proper training (which includes classwork on how to be safe), you can expect minimal injuries in this field, if any.

However, if one gets lax in safety protocol, you can easily be burned or shocked in this field. Often, heavy lifting may cause muscle strains. In addition, working with dangerous chemicals, such as freon, can cause burns, frostbite, or blindness.

In 2015, the Dept. of Labor reported 29 fatalities by either transportation, falls, chemical inhalation, or electrical shocks. 

Will I need a license or certification as an HVACR Tech?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stipulates that anyone handling dangerous refrigerants is properly trained to do so. You will need to take the EPA certification exam to buy and work with freon, etc. 

Depending on the state in which you are working, you may need to be licensed.

What is the salary of an HVACR Technician?

The BLS reports the salary of an HVACR Technician to be approximately $50,590 per year as of May 2020. With experience, the highest-paid 10% earned upwards of $80,820 annually.

What is the job outlook for HVACR Techs?

Several factors should encourage you to become an HVACR Tech, such as the growth in construction and the need for employees due to others retiring from the field. As a result, there is a 5% growth rate expected between 2020 and 2030.

Can I take HVACR classes online?

Due to the nature of heat and air work, it stands to reason that hands-on training and experience are essential; however, some schools do offer online coursework. As you might expect, some on-campus lab work may be required, so be sure to check into the requirements before signing on to an “online” program.

What will I learn in an HVACR program?

Of course, you will learn the basics of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration, but within that realm, you will learn about:

  • Residential & commercial HVACR systems
  • Troubleshooting
  • Refrigeration systems
  • HVAC measurements
  • Equipment selection
  • Fundamentals of electric motors
  • Capacitors & transformers
  • Preventative maintenance
  • Using power tools
  • Installing repair parts
  • Customer service
  • And, much more!